Larry grabbed his cutlery and began to eat; he didn’t take part in a conversation that had already been led on the way from work to a restaurant by his significantly younger co-workers David and Jake – on the one hand, he had never been much communicative, but especially, in his fifty-five years of his life, he had already led similar debates so much that he was little tired of them, so he usually leave them to the young, for example, to his two colleagues at the table, whose year of birth he estimated to be at least 2040.
“Say whatever you want, but limiting the Internet access to those who don’t pay alimony is contra productive because it makes it harder for them to find work,” said David defiantly.
“But they mostly have a job, they just don’t want to pay. I have a female friend that could tell you something about it,” said Jake.
“Well, some do not want to pay, but what about the rest of them?”
“They’ll find a job without the Internet. Am I right, Larry?”
“I do not think so,” said Larry slowly and thoughtfully.
“Well, so in your opinion, the government should allow criminals to use the Internet?”
“In my opinion, the government should not have the right to permit or prohibit the Internet to anyone; the state should not provide the Internet connection at all.”
Both colleagues looked at Larry with surprised faces.
“So who would provide the Internet?” asked David.
“Well, private providers, it would be a paid service; anyone would be able to provide the Internet connection.”
“So the central management of users would be in the hands of private persons?”
“The central management of users may have nobody in his hands; I am personally for its cancellation,” replied Larry.
His coworkers looked at him like at a fool.
“And how would users be authorized?” said Jake strongly.
“They wouldn’t; they would surf anonymously,” said Larry.
“Well, but you would practically burry all the benefits of the Internet; for example, for every text we see clearly who is the author, without it there would be a chaos and anarchy, anyone would be able to write a stupid text and sign as someone else. In addition, anyone could easily be hidden in that anonymity. The entire network would only serve as a tool for criminals.”
“You are telling it as if today the Internet was not used by the criminals...”
“But you can’t compare that; today, there is at least someone trying to regulate the delinquency on the Internet; if it was private, nobody would care,” said Jake more loudly, “In addition, in anonymous Internet you couldn’t even buy anything!”
“Why not? The buyer would give his name with the address to the e-shop.”
“That’s bullshit. What if someone ordered goods for cash on someone else’s name? Owners of e-shops would thus easily eliminate their competition; they would simply order many things anonymously on fake name and e-shops would go bankrupt immediately...”
“Exactly; I am certainly not a supporter of restricting the Internet for those who don’t pay alimony, but there has to be some control. You wouldn’t even be able to buy things on the anonymous Internet, anyone could spam the seller with fake orders,” added David.
“But the Internet was functioning before 2030 and people were normally shopping online,” sighed Larry.
“Well, but it was so long ago ... show me any Internet shop today that would work without the customer identity verification.”
“Of course, they use it today, because it was made available for them by the states; if it was not, they would work without it,” said Larry.
“But that would be terribly complicated, and even customers could not be calm! What if someone anonymously set up a site that would only be taking money but not delivering the goods? Nobody would have a chance to find that scammer,” opposed David.
“David is right; under such conditions no one would buy anything. And we didn’t mention individuals selling things to each other without having an e-shop – something like that would not work, because they simply cannot believe each other when the state does not verify their identity,” added Jake.
“Gentlemen, I understand that it may seem like something incredible, but anonymous Internet really worked and people were buying and selling on the Internet a lot, even between themselves without having to own an e-shop.”
“Look, no offense, it’s definitely a beautiful idea and a pretty utopia, but something like that is nowadays completely unimaginable,” said Jake.
"I know ... I know," said Larry wearily.
Do you think such a conversation will ever happen? Unfortunately, I have to say it can happen and by gradually abolishing freedom we may go even further; because for every next generation, the limitations, they grow up with, are normal and “without them it wouldn’t work”. And we don’t mention that when some state regulation is introduced somewhere, people will rely on it and they will also utilize it – like e-shops in that alternative future that have an access to the central records of users, of course they will utilize it for verifying identity of their customers; but that does not mean that without this regulation they would go bankrupt. We can see that around us today. I am convinced that if the Internet was not anonymous today, 99% of people would firmly believe that it couldn’t work in the anonymous way. Why? Because many of the problems that have been solved by market principles would not be on a centralized state Internet (on the contrary, there would be different problems, most of which we probably cannot imagine today), ergo nobody would try to solve them, so in such a world it may seem, at the first sight, unsolvable; and everyone who would hypothetically try to invent such solutions can easily be described as a dreamer talking about utopia and declared to be a fool.
De facto, in every discussion of how would the stateless society work or not, there will be people like David and Jake from the fictitious conversation above who – in good faith, absolutely convinced of their truth – surely “know” that we simply need regulations, because without them “it would not work”; but the more regulation the state introduces, the more people will count on them and include them in their lives, so then many problems will appear to be unsolvable without regulations, because nobody will try to solve them – maybe just crazy anarchistic theoreticians (and these enthusiasts, of course, cannot solve them better than the millions of experts in the free market which would be paid for finding solutions). If you ever find yourself, dear readers, in a discussion similar to David’s and Jake’s, please remember this article; not everything is as clear as it may seem at first sight. And good ideas do not require force.
Who is him?
Urza is Czech anarcho-capitalist author, he has written about thousand of libertarian texts on the web and printed media and also the first Czech book on anarcho-capitalism. He lectures at schools and conferences, made a number of videos and is often invited to many discussions.